Owls defense prevails in victory over Pirates

Temple University men’s basketball defeated the East Carolina University Pirates 71-63 Wednesday night.

Damian Dunn, a redshirt-freshman guard, led the Owls with 26 points in their win against East Carolina University on Feb. 2. | NICK DAVIS / FILE

With three minutes left in the game, the Pirates began fouling, putting them in the bonus and sending Owls’ redshirt-sophomore guard Damian Dunn to the free throw line on several straight possessions. Dunn drained his free throws to secure a win in what became a close game down the stretch.

“We had a big enough cushion to sustain their run,” said head coach Aaron McKie.  

Temple University men’s basketball (12-7, 5-3 The American Athletic Conference) defeated East Carolina University (11-10, 2-7 The American) 71-63 on Wednesday night, marking their fifth win in their last six games. 

The Owls shot 45.5 percent from 3-point territory in the first half and 40 percent on the game, finding open shooters, and forcing Pirates’ defenders to respect their deeper shots, which created opportunities inside. The Owls scored 24 points in the paint compared to the Pirates’ 18. 

Dunn led all scorers with 26 points, while freshman guard Jahlil White had 10 rebounds. Even though the Owls’ offense scored at all three levels, their defense once again carried them throughout the game. 

The Owls scored 19 points off turnovers by forcing eight steals and blocking four shots, keeping thePirates team at bay on the offensive end. Despite the scrappy game, Temple’s composure handed the Pirates their fifth consecutive loss. 

“We feel like we’re the best defensive team in the country,” said freshman guard Jeremiah Williams. “We take pride in our defense.”

In the first half, the Pirates shot 20 percent from 3-point territory and secured only 18 rebounds, allowing Temple to get away with scoring just 28 points in the first half. 

Temple’s length continued to block passing lanes and protect the rim, helping the Owls stand their ground even when the game got physical. 

There were several stretches in which the Pirates couldn’t score, including a nearly five-minute drought early in the second half. From that point on, Temple kept the Pirates at a distance, possessing the ball and playing sound defense to close out a crucial win. 

The last time these two teams met, Dunn capped off the high-scoring affair with a game-winning buzzer beater, giving the Owls a 78-75 win. This time around, what was presumably an offensive showdown became a defensive contest early on as neither team could score outside the final minutes.

Williams finished with 14 points, his third double-digit performance in a row. For the Pirates, sophomore guard Tristen Newton finished with 22 points while senior forward Vance Jackson finished with 18 of his own. 

The Owls have only given up two 70-point games since taking on the University of Delaware (15-7, 6-3 The Colonial Athletic Association) on Nov. 27, the fifth game of their season. 

Next, Temple returns home to the Liacouras Center to face off against the University of Tulsa (7-13, 1-8 The American) on Feb. 5 at 2 p.m. 

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